Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vacation - week 34 of 52

Hi everyone - I'm going to be on vacation for 4 days in beautiful Boston so there won't be a recipe this week, but there will definitely restaurant reviews and pictures. Boston and area is known for its seafood so stay tuned! Pics and reviews next week!

Bon appétit!

Toronto Foodie Girl

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Grilled Polenta and Balsamic Mushrooms - week 33 of 52

This is the last week of “Grilling in August” and found this recipe online on I love mushrooms and have never tried polenta – I wanted to try something different.

Polenta originated in Northern Italy and is cooked cornmeal. It can be served either in porridge-like form or cooled to form a cake. The polenta was very easy to make (just like making oatmeal) but be careful when cooking - while cooking, the polenta can sputter and jump out of the pan when still in porridge form (and can hurt!). I refrigerated the polenta overnight and then cut into triangles for the recipe. It’s supposed to be refridgerated uncovered, but that will dry out the top and form a little “crust” - I cut that off before grilling.

The balsamic mushrooms were delicious but I wasn’t crazy about the polenta – even with the balsamic dressing, it was little flavourless. I have quite a few pieces left and may try it with some tomato sauce and parmesan cheese for a light meal. The mushrooms would be great with some goat cheese served over some greens.

Grilled Polenta and Balsamic Mushrooms – courtesy Martha Stewart
Mushrooms ****
Polenta **

Balsamic Mushrooms and sauces Serves 4.
• 6 portobello mushrooms (about 1 pound), stems and caps separated, halved if very large
• 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
• 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
• 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
• Freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
• 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
• 1/2 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken or vegetable stock
• 12 pieces set polenta (about 1/2 batch) Basic Polenta (Soft or Set), cut into 1-inch-thick rectangles or triangles (I’ve substituted with polenta recipe from Canadian Living below)
• 2 cups arugula (2 ounces)
• 8 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved

1. Toss portobellos with garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, vinegar, and 1/4 cup oil in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally, for 1 hour.
2. Transfer portobellos to a plate. Pour marinade into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Add stock. Raise heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining tablespoon oil, and remove from heat.
3. Preheat grill to medium-high. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 3 to 4 seconds.) Lightly brush top and bottom of polenta with oil, and place in center of grill. Cook, flipping once, until polenta is marked, crisp, and no longer sticks to grill, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Meanwhile, place portobellos on cooler part of grill, and cook, turning frequently to avoid burning, until tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Place arugula on a platter, and arrange polenta and portobellos on top. Drizzle about half the sauce over portobellos. Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve immediately with extra sauce on the side.

Polenta – courtesy Canadian Living
• 2 cups chicken stock
• Pinch of pepper
• 1 cup cornmeal

1. In a large saucepan, bring stock, 2 cups of water and pepper to boil over high heat. Gradually whisk in cornmeal until thickened.
2. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring often with wooden spoon for 10 to 15 minutes or until hard to stir and grains are soft.
3. With rubber spatula, scrape into 11 x 7 inch baking idsh, spreading evenly. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1 hour or until firm or for up to 24 hours.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Grilled peaches - week 32 of 52

Week 3 of grilling in August is cinnamon-grilled peaches, courtesy of Bobby Flay, king of the grill. (Bobby, if you're reading I'm a huge fan and love your "Throwdown" show!) A meal is not complete without dessert and fresh Ontario peaches are now in season – seemed like a no-brainer!

This is a very easy recipe which involves making a caramel-like sauce for the peaches and then grilling. When making the sauce it seemed quite frothy/foamy at the beginning, but eventually will become thicker and caramel like.

When choosing the peaches, I used peaches that were just ripe because grilling will make the peaches a little softer so too ripe peaches will become mushy. I changed the recipe a little and skipped the step with the cinnamon sticks.

The taste is really good! The grilling will add juiciness and extra flavour to the peaches – don’t even consider serving without ice cream. That is a must!
I will be making this again this summer before peaches are out of season (or will need to find creative ways to cook a basket of leftover peaches)!

Bon appétit!

Cinnamon-grilled peaches


Rating (out of 5) ****


• 4 large ripe freestone peaches
• 8 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
• 8 fresh mint leaves
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup dark rum
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Pinch salt
• Peach or vanilla ice cream,for serving


Rinse the peaches and blot them dry with paper towels. Cut each peach in half and discard the pit. Then, cut each peach into quarters. Using a pointed chopstick or metal skewer, make a starter hole in the center of each peach quarter, working from the pit side to the skin side. Skewer 2 peach quarters on each cinnamon stick, placing a mint leaf between the 2 quarters.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, rum, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Let the glaze boil until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.
Prepare and preheat the grill to high. Brush and oil the grate. Next, place the skewered peaches on the hot grate and grill until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side, basting with the rum and butter glaze. Spoon any remaining glaze over the grilled peaches and serve at once. Peach or vanilla ice cream makes a great accompaniment.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grilled mahi mahi with tropical fruit salsa - week 31 of 52

"What is mahi mahi?" was my first thought when I read this recipe. "Sounds good but I have no idea what it is." I went to my local grocery store and found out it’s a pale pink colour fish with silvery gray skin. Wikipedia tells me it’s a fish found in tropical and sub-tropical waters.

Mahi mahi is often served with some sort of tropical fruit salsa. I've never grilled fish so wanted to try this in the second week of grilling in August.

The fish was easy to find at the grocery store and comes with skin on. After marinating with skin on, I threw the fish on the grill and it didn`t stick (I was nervous about that happening). Make sure the grill is well greased and be patient. Don't try to flip the fish until it's cooked - if you try to flip before it's done, the fish will stick (I know)! The fish turned out really great! The fish is denser and "meatier" than I expected, but excellent.

The fresh tropical salsa is the perfect touch - you can add some heat as well (jalapeno pepper to taste). The cold fresh salsa + mahi mahi + coconut = delciousness! This is definitely a recipe that is a repeat and perfect for the summer!

Bon appétit!

Mahi mahi with tropical fruit salsa – recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, New
Grilling Book


Rating (out of 5) ****

4 5-6 ounce fresh or frozen skinless mahi mahi
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons toasted seasame oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons toasted coconut

1. Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Place fish in a shallow dish. Combine soy sauce, honey, oil and ginger. Pour over fish; turn fish to coat. Cover; marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes turning over once.

2. For salsa, in a medium bowl stir together pineapple, cilantro, lime juice and red onion. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

3. Drain fish, discarding marinade. Lightly grease or lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray a grill basket. Place fish in greased grill basket, tucking under any thin edges.

4. For a charcoal grill, grill fish in basket on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 4 to 6 minutes per ½ inch of thickness or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, truing basket once halfway through grilling. For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place basket on grill rack over medium heat.

5. Serve fish with salsa. Sprinkle each serving with coconut.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Classic Greek Salad with Grilled Calamari - week 30 of 52

Classic Greek Salad with Calamari

Summer = grilling. The month of August will be dedicated to recipes on the grill! This recipe was on Food Network with some great reviews from other foodies – good job Bobby Flay! I love seafood and in particular, am a big fan of calamari, but have never prepared it. It was not easy to find fresh calamari and I had to go to a couple of seafood stores in order to find it. Make sure it’s fresh and doesn’t smell “too fishy” – too fishy is generally an indication that it’s not too fresh.

The recipe is super easy, but a little garlicky for my taste. Definitely take Bobby’s advice and cook no longer than 2 min on each side on a med-high grill otherwise you’ll end up with super chewy calamari. As well, while waiting for the calamari to cook, throw the salad in a fridge to chill. No one likes room temperature salad (and by no one, I mean me!).

This is a fresh recipe, perfect for the summer. You will get about 4 meal-sized salads.

Bon appétit!

Classic Greek Salad with Calamari – courtesy of Bobby Flay
Rating (out of 5) ****


• 20 wooden skewers
• 10 small whole calamari, cleaned, tentacles removed
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 4 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 tablespoon dried oregano
• 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
• 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1 lemon, juiced
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
• 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
• 1 medium cucumber, sliced thin
• 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
• 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
• 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
• Lemon wedges, for garnish
• Fresh oregano leaves, for garnish


Soak 20 wooden skewers in water for about 20 minutes. Rinse the calamari tubes and pat dry. Split the bodies from top to bottom so you have 2 triangular pieces. Thread a soaked skewer through the length of each piece. Put the skewers on a platter and set aside. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic, dried and fresh oregano, thyme and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Pour 1/2 of the vinaigrette over the calamari; set the other 1/2 aside while you make the salad.

In a large bowl, add the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, cheese, olives, and romaine. Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Let marinate while you grill the calamari.

Heat the grill or a grill pan and oil it lightly. Grill the calamari for 2 minutes on each side, no longer or they will be tough. To serve, put the salad onto a large platter and top it with the calamari skewers. Garnish with fresh oregano leaves and lemon wedges.